Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
A primary school is located not far from where I live. And walking past the front gate, I had a look at their notice board and in big letters were, Happiness is Holidays. Of course it was the holiday season, and I presume the staff were wishing each of the pupils a happy holiday.
And I hope they did have a good holiday. They were probably delighted not to have to come to school. Maybe it wasn’t so happy for all the parents of these kids—I don’t know for sure. Maybe you remember back to your school days, and you looked forward so much to the holiday break. I know I did. And it’s important for children to have memorable holidays. I wonder when you think back, Were they good and carefree days?
The problem with holiday happiness
I want to share some ideas, not so much on children and their holidays, but the fact that holidays not always means happiness. A survey I read showed that the level of personal happiness was at its highest in planning the holiday—interesting I thought. Many dreaded having to return to work and once back at work had to catch up with a big pile sitting on their desk, or were worried about being sick or having disagreements with their travel partner. So if holidays don’t bring happiness, what does?
The problem with holiday happiness is that it is shallow and short-lived, not full and forever. Most people associated happiness with pleasure. You ask people,
- What do you want out of life?
- I want to have fun, I want to be happy, I want to feel good.
Those are all different ways of saying pleasure. We use phrases like, If it feels good do it or If it doesn’t feel good avoid it. That’s why we as a people spend billions of dollars each year on entertainment. We have pleasure- and thrill-seekers everywhere.
Here’s the problem: our flesh is never satisfied. It always wants more. Money can buy:
- a nice bed, but it can’t buy a good night sleep.
- a large house, but it can’t make it a home.
- the best education, but it can’t make you wise.
- the best doctors, but not good health.
- the biggest parties, but not good friends.
- the most extravagant vacations, but not peace in your heart.
A better way to finding happiness and meaning
There has to be a better solution in finding happiness—and there is a solution. Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl wrote Man’s Search For Meaning, which ranks #9 on the USA’s Library of Congress’ list of ‘most influential books’. In it, he speaks of the error of our culture that places such an emphasis on ‘being happy’. He writes, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue… one must have a reason to be happy.” He argues that a person who is aware of his or her own responsibility toward even one other human being, or to some creative work, has found meaning in life.
That person, Frankl observes, understands the ‘why’ for his or her existence. And knowing the ‘why’, he or she will be able to bear almost anything that life throws at them. As he studied the other prisoners in the concentration camps, he noted that the survivors tended not to be the people who where only concerned about themselves. Rather, the people who wound up becoming survivors tended to voluntarily take upon themselves responsibility for helping others get through their shared ordeal.
Max Lucado wrote:
We are not happy here (on earth). We are not happy because we are not supposed to be happy here. “We are ‘like foreigners and strangers’ in this world.” (1 Pet. 2:11). And you will never be completely happy on earth simply because you were not made for earth. Yes, will have moments of joy. You will have glimpses of light. You will know moments or even days of peace. But they simply do not compare with the happiness that lies ahead.”
(To be continued in “Happiness Is Holidays” – Part 2)